Procuring Norway`s next national supercomputer


Sigma2 is actively planning the acquisition of Norway's next supercomputer, temporarily named "A2".

This new supercomputer will replace Fram, one of our three existing supercomputers, and is designed to meet the growing demand for computing resources from Norwegian scientists.

Unlike Fram, which is a purely CPU-based machine, A2 will feature both substantial CPU and GPU capacities.

With the procurement of A2 we aim to ensure sufficient high-performance computing (HPC) capacity for researchers in Norway in the period between 2025 and 2029.

In addition to traditional CPU-based HPC resources, we also aim to acquire sufficient GPU computing capability for AI/ML (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning) to meet researchers' needs through 2029. In this regard, it's crucial to structure the procurement process to allow for expansion scenarios, ensuring flexibility in terms of future required volumes, architectures, and technology.

A2 will be the first of the national supercomputers to be installed in our data hall inside the mountain at Lefdal Mine Datacenter., where the Norwegian Infrastructure for Research Data (NIRD) opened last year.

Project status and milestones

The project is executed within the NRIS organization, using a Sigma2 adapted version of the “Prosjektveiviseren”, with Stein Inge Knarbakk as Project Leader.

As of March 2023, the project team had made significant progress, achieving several major milestones. A thorough stakeholder analysis was conducted, a market survey was carried out, and a user survey was executed. The two-stage “Request For Information” (RFI) process involved five potential vendors, each providing valuable technical feedback.

The Project Team also completed the Detailed Technical Specifications and established The Rules of the Competition, setting the groundwork for the public procurement process. In October 2023, the procurement process was initiated, with the qualification phase completed in November. The tender process took place from December 2023 to January 2024.

Advancing towards operations

Now, we’re in the middle of the evaluation process, which is expected to continue until April 2024. The plan is then to award the contract between May and June 2024.

And the goal? To have “A2” operational and ready to support researchers by the first half of 2025. Like NIRD and the existing supercomputers, A2 will be operated by the already well-established operations organisation within NRIS.